6. Allow for a response. It's
tempting to unload your concerns and leave. But if you really want to
change behavior, you must be involved in a two-way conversation. We all
learn constructively, and the teacher needs time to absorb what you've
said and respond. You can create an opening by asking "Does this
make sense to you?" or "Can you see why I was
disappointed?" If the teacher hesitates, you might say "Why
don't you sit on this for a day or so, and then let's talk." The
goal is to help the teacher understand your perspective.
7. Clarify what you said. Often I
will end a discussion by saying, "Let me be sure that I was clear
in what I said," and rephrase my point. You might want to go a step
further and follow the conversation with a memo outlining your concerns
to avoid any misunderstanding.
8. Remember the 5:1 ratio. You
need to offer much more positive than negative feedback. Aim for a ratio
of at least five positives to every negative. Think of this as building
an "interpersonal bank account." By making enough
positive deposits (specific statements of support or appreciation), you
can make an occasional withdrawal (specific negative feedback) when
appropriate. Keeping this ratio in mind also helps to avoid the tendency
to offer feedback only when there is a problem
9., Don't use email for criticism.
Under the best of circumstances, giving negative feedback is hard - and
using email for this purpose is far from the best of circumstances.
Email is quick and allows you to be precise and keep records of
communications, but it is not a forum that allows for interaction or
clarification. Criticisms should be delivered face-to-face.
10. Let the other person know that
you've been there, too. None of us like criticism, particularly if
it comes from someone we respect. While offering that feedback, it's
helpful to let the teacher know that you've made your share of mistakes,
and that you can appreciate their frustration and unhappiness. This
sends a powerful message.
Giving negative feedback to others is
never easy. Even if we do it well, it is typically not pleasant for
either party. But if you want your faculty to grow and learn, giving
negative feedback is an important part of your responsibility as a
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